Dairy cattle will be excluded from waterways by July 2017 under new requirement to be introduced by Government, says the Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy.
Nathan says the Government will work with industry to exclude other cattle from waterways over time on intensively farmed lowland properties.
“I want to recognise and salute the dairy industry for the enormous progress they have made in voluntarily fencing off around 90 per cent of waterways on their farms. But it’s important we send a clear message to international markets how importantly we take environmental issues.”
The Government is investing hundreds of millions of dollars towards freshwater clean-up projects on lakes and rivers around the country.
“During the (election) campaign we announced we’ll invest an additional $100 million over 10 years to voluntarily buy and retire selected areas of farmland next to important waterways.”
Nathan says he is also looking forward to seeing more progress on irrigation and water storage projects.
“After two severe droughts in the last two summers, especially in the Waikato, the need for better water storage is obvious. We only capture around two per cent of rainfall in New Zealand, with the rest roaring out to sea.”
The Government has created Crown Irrigations Investment Limited to make independent decisions on which projects to invest in.
“Their role is as a minority investor – early in, early out to kick-start projects. So far we have allocated $120 million out of a potential $400 million in funding.
“We have potential for an extra 420,000 hectares of land to be irrigated by 2025, creating thousands of new jobs and boosting exports by $4 billion a year.”
Nathan says he has seen what a difference irrigation makes to rural communities, revitalising schools and entire towns, creating jobs for locals.
“Crown Irrigation Investments has made its first investment, agreeing the terms for a $6.5m investment into the Central Plains Water scheme on the Canterbury Plains.
“Over the next three years I’m looking forward to seeing more investments like this announced and progressing.”
It is not just dairy that benefits from irrigation, but industries like horticulture, and viticulture as well.
“Projects must be environmentally balanced, and there are high standards for new dairy farm conversions. We know that irrigation can deliver real environmental benefits as more consistent river flows improve the habitats for fish and birdlife, while taking pressure off groundwater aquifiers.
“Achieving our export double goal has to be done sustainably. It’s important to New Zealanders, and it’s important to our overseas customers as part of Brand New Zealand.
“Technology transfer from projects like PGP and the Sustainable Farming Fund will be important. Lifting the performance of all farms to the highest performing level will mean increased production within environmental limits.”